Yay! Madame Zingara has given birth to a beautiful baby tent.
Named after two staff members (Mojo and Sweetlena) who have been with Madame Zingara since the wee years, Mojolena's is a welcome consequence of the success of the Theatre of Dreams dining concept. It is a compromise between the permanent restaurant in Loop Street that burnt down in 2006 and the nomadic dining experience of the wandering Spiegelpaleis.
Mojolena's gleaming mirror tent has taken up as permanent a residence as we can hope for at the Opera Gardens, just behind the Artscape theatre complex.
The opening on Saturday drew Madame's faithful acolytes and hopeful converts. The path to the tent is fairy-lit and spotted with gypsy benches.
The tent isn't quite as big as the Theatre of Dream's Spiegelpaleis, but can seat about 300 people. Inside is awash in gothic splendour and gypsy bohemia, with waiters wandering about dressed as French maids, gypsy harlots and butch hairdressers from Benoni.
The tent is aglow with the light of hundreds of candles on the tables and the air is scented with the fragrance of little hills of rose petals strewn about.
The seating is plush and the décor is opulent. The attention to detail is initially dimmed by the spectacle, but is there if you look and adds to the experience.
Alas, the opening night didn't feature a full menu (no Chocolate Chilli Steak tonight, boyo), but we were buried in delicious canapés and drowned in bubbly.
The Amazing Step Sisters provided the entertainment, while we snacked and hobnobbed. The four talented soul sistas, Carmen Maarman, Tarryn Lamb, Titi Tsira and Salome Damon, were draped in finery and busted out camp classics that got the crowd singing along. The songs got more woes and the seats were abandoned as the entire restaurant spun into a spiralling bacchanal.
Mojolena, jou lekker ding, we salute you.
- Bookings: Tel: 086-162-3263.
Trading days: Tuesdays to Sundays, from 6.30pm onwards.
Menu: A la carte menu with nightly entertainment (R35 per person cover charge).
Location: Founders Garden, cnr Jan Smuts Ave and Table Bay Boulevard, Foreshore. See www.mojolenas.com